The truth about bottled water

The bottled water industry has been growing steadily since it began, and environmentalists are still fighting to prevent the use of wasteful bottled water. Companies such as Aquafina (Pepsi), Dasani (Coke), Perrier (Nestle), Evian, and Fiji Water all sell bottled water at prices much higher than the costs of tap water—sometimes up to 2,000 times more than tap water costs. Bottled water companies are able to do this by convincing consumers that tap water is somehow not as “good” as bottled water. Whether companies use descriptive adjectives to label their water, or they print a serene mountain on the label, the water is almost always the same.

Not only is bottled water supposedly cleaner than tap water, but it is also marketed as convenient. I’m not sure what is convenient about driving to the store and spending 2,000 times more money than I should for something that flows out of my faucet and is just as good, but that is just my opinion. I would rather grab a reusable bottle off of my shelf and run out the door than worry about buying more plastic bottles and hoping they are recycled.

This past July, The United Nations declared water a fundamental human right, and thus it should not be commercialized. By allowing multinational corporations to invade a region, “buy” the water, and then re-sell it to residents, prices skyrocket and often low-income families simply cannot afford the water.

Brian O’Neill

What will come of our aging water infrastructure?

An article released by today discusses the condition of water infrastructure systems in the United States. After reading a short story about a water main that erupted under a woman’s home, the author stated that this was “one of an average 700 water main breaks nationwide that experts say occur each day.” The author then proceeds to discuss how America’s water infrastructure is aging. In the 2009 Report Card of America’s Infrastructure (conducted by the American Society of Civil Engineers), the nation’s water system was given a D-. In a nation with a growing population, what does this mean in terms of security and delivery?

Eric Goldstein of the National Resource Defense Council describes what could potentially happen “”Anytime you’re breaking the seal of the system that brings water into your homes and apartments, you’re risking contamination from bacteria and viruses.” In other words, every time you make a connection to an existing water supply, you risk contaminating it with outside pollutants or bacteria.

In systems that deliver water to 100,000 people or more, 30% of the pipes are 40 to 80 years old. Approximately 10% of the pipes are greater than 80 years old. To compound the problem, modern technology makes it increasingly difficult to maintain, repair, and retrofit water systems. “There’s now Verizon lines that didn’t used to be there, cable lines, fiber lines, electrical lines,” said District of Columbia water general manager George Hawkins. “So much has been added to the underworld, that each one of the these fixes is getting more and more complicated to get done properly.” The nation’s capital, Hawkins said, averages about one water pipe break each day.

To read more about our aging water infrastructure, visit

Brian O’Neill

Stop wasting water!

California should more enforce the state’s ban on wasteful water use and crack down on inefficient irrigation practices. In a report that will be presented next week to the State Water Resources Control Board, Delta Watermaster Craig Wilson wades into a potentially explosive area of water law: the “reasonable use” doctrine in the state Constitution.

The principle, reinforced in statute and court decisions, holds that a water right does not include the right to waste water and mandates that “the water resources of the state be put to beneficial use.”

His report recommends that the state board convene a summit, create an enforcement unit and streamline what Wilson characterized as “cumbersome” enforcement procedures.

“I think it’s long past time that the state focus on what is really a reasonable and beneficial use of our water,” said Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick, who has argued that California agriculture could cut its water use by 10% to 15% if it adopted more sophisticated irrigation techniques. “There’s been no effort to identify and challenge unreasonable uses of water.”

“It’s a hard issue to raise,” Gleick added. “Because one person’s reasonable use is another person’s unreasonable use.”

For more information on water conservation, please visit
Brian O’Neill

NASA Satellites Help Save Water

NASA researchers have created a computer program to help farmers save water. The program helps farmers monitor real-time water needs on their farm by analyzing data from satellites, weather stations, and local rain sensors. The program then compiles this data for farmers and shows areas expected to need more irrigation. For example, areas which receive more sunlight would need more water than areas covered by clouds.
This program is scheduled to run for an 18-month trial period in the San Joaquin Valley. This beta test of the system combines satellite and surface information to calculate water needs. This program is expected to be implemented on smart phones and other devices such as tablet computers or android devices. Once finished, this program could be implemented on devices such as the iPad. Farmers would then be able to control irrigation scheduling from their fields—thus eliminating a significant amount of down-time in transportation.
Although not much information has been released about the program, it seems to be somewhat of a version of a wireless Weather-Based Irrigation Controller (WBIC). WBIC systems are programmed with information such as the plant type as well as amount of sun received and orientation. The WBIC then calculates how much water is needed for each zone, and waters accordingly.
For more information on water conservation, visit
Brian O’Neill